The Year’s Top Trends in Food Manufacturing
As the food manufacturing industry continues to evolve, a number of key trends have been significant in shaping its trajectory. Five, in particular, have risen to the forefront: sustainability, transparency, efficiency, digitalisation, and the importance of excellence, driven by a combination of factors from market trends to shifting consumer preferences, increasing awareness and education about everything from nutrition and food manufacturing to climate change, and regulatory developments affecting changes on a regional and global scale.
Sustainability Takes Centre Stage
One of the most prominent trends in the F&B industry in recent years, from food processing to packaging, branding, and beyond, is sustainability. Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their food choices, encompassing everything from what products are made of to how they’re made. A 2021 Nielsen report revealed that 81% of respondents globally believe that companies should play a role in improving the environment – and with nearly a third of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions linked to food production, it’s clear that the industry’s ability to prioritize sustainability is the key to meeting this demand for positive change.
This heightened environmental consciousness has led to a surge in demand for plant-based and alternative ingredient options. Consumers are seeking healthier, cleaner, and more organic options in their food and beverages, reflecting a growing emphasis on personal well-being.
The Rise Of The Health-Conscious Consumer
In tandem with the move towards sustainability-friendly choices, the health-conscious consumer is also reshaping the food landscape, from what they choose off the shelves trickling all the way down into the manufacturing stage. People want to know more about the contents of their food and how it’s produced, and transparency has become essential. Reports from NielsenIQ and FMI indicate that between 75% and 81% of shoppers consider transparency to be of great importance, influencing their choice of brands and manufacturers and guiding their purchase decisions.
And this transparency has now extended beyond ingredient disclosure, to also encompass sustainability-related issues. Consumers are now more concerned about the origin of ingredients, sourcing practices, human rights, working conditions, and broader ethical considerations. For food and beverage manufacturers, embracing transparency has become a vital trust-building exercise, impacting everything from product labelling to company procedures and policies.
Efficiency as a Competitive Edge
The embrace of sustainability and transparency brings with it added costs. Changes to processes, ingredient sourcing, and workforce considerations can strain budgets. Consequently, manufacturers are not only focused on integrating these pillars but also doing so efficiently. From cost management to supply chain optimization, machinery and equipment upgrades, and streamlined production methods, finding more efficient solutions to meet consumer needs and demands has become paramount.
Efficiency might well be the competitive advantage that sets a manufacturer apart in a demanding industry. While sustainability and transparency are essential, executing them with precision and resourcefulness can make all the difference in a sector where consumer preferences and industry standards are rapidly evolving.
Digitalisation to play a key role
Technology and digitalisation appears to be the key to helping to improve efficiency on all fronts – a theme being seen across a wide number of industries from real estate and travel to human resources, fashion and textiles, and last but certainly not least the food and beverage industry. In fact, it is within F&B that this new wave of technological advancements that are changing the way we work and live could potentially have the greatest impact, affecting everything from the way we produce and manufacture food and beverage, to the way we consume it.
Artificial intelligence and automation are enabling more cost efficiency, smarter solutions, and greater innovation, by enhancing production efficiency through optimized production schedules and supply chain management, quality control and assurance, personalization of nutrition and products for everything from dietary requirements to food labelling, energy efficiency and waste reduction, demand forecasting and improved logistics and distribution, enhanced safety and compliance, greater traceability, innovation in product development, and amplified data and reporting across all levels.
Underlined with excellence
Whether it’s through the quality of ingredients, a commitment to sustainability, increasing the value consumers can gain from a product, or the way a company works and is run, maintaining consistency in delivering a USP that customers can rely on is a crucial aspect of a business’s ability to succeed and make an impact in the market. From the range and quality of ingredients, and the way and places resources are sourced, to offering added value and maintaining adaptable and diverse means of production, F&B manufacturers who are ready to delve in on a focus, excel in it, and use it to grow into market leaders.
All of these trends were witnessed and expanded upon at Gulfood Manufacturing 2023 – the ultimate platform for leaders in the F&B manufacturing industry from across the world – which took place from November 7-8 at Dubai World Trade Centre. One of the most highly-anticipated annual events for companies and individuals in the global F&B industry, the sister show of Gulfood was a truly inspiring showcase of innovation and industry-leading practices this year.
The rising of food trends that end up on our supermarket shelves and in our homes typically begins long before the end-stages of the supply chain, including the manufacturing stage. These trends from the food manufacturing industry directly translate to those that end up on our plates the following year, and will undoubtably be reflected in in the stands lining the show floors at Gulfood 2024. Want to learn more? Don’t miss your chance to experience it at the show, only at Dubai World Trade Centre from February 19-24, 2024.